Getting to Know Mary: The Assumption

Sometimes God gives his greatest graces in the most ordinary of circumstances. An example of this might be a trip to Mount Melleray, the famous Cistercian Monastery in Ireland made by Frank Duff and Joe Gabbett. Frank Duff was walking in the garden with a monk named Fr.Brendan. The monk said: ‘Mr.Duff would you like to have a book to read while you’re here? Frank answered immediately: ” Oh yes, I’d like to have a book about the Blessed Virgin, a book that wouldn’t be too deep for me to understand but which would, nevertheless, be a theological book that would explain the full position of Our Lady.” The monk gave him ‘The Knowledge of Mary’ by Father de Concilio. This book marked a major growth point in his knowledge and love of Our Lady. What strikes me most about this little incident is Frank Duff’s great desire to know more about Our Lady. So great a desire God would not and did not leave unsatisfied. As Legionaries, we too must want to know more about Mary, we must do everything we can to know her, and we must pray incessantly for this great grace. We seek to know more about Mary solely in order to love and serve her better in the mystical Body of Christ.

One of the best ways of coming to a deep friendship with Mary is by celebrating her feasts in the liturgy of the Church. The Liturgical year is marked by many great feasts of Our Lady. There is a great grace in listening to Our Lord teaching us about His Mother and ours in and through his mystical Body, the Church as she celebrates the Liturgy. Last week we celebrated the Feast of the Assumption which introduces us to Mary in her glorified state. What significance does Mary have for us in her heavenly form of existence now that she is no longer in her earthly time of existence?

I wish to suggest just three ways in which the Feast of the Assumption could be a source of great grace for us. Firstly, it reminds us of the final destiny that God has planned for each one of us. We were created not just for some passing happiness on earth no matter how wonderful and joyous it may sometimes be. We are made for eternal happiness in a way that goes beyond anything we could possibly imagine. Pope Benedict makes this point in one of his talks on the Assumption: ‘Mary is an example and support for all believers: She encourages us not to lose confidence in the face of the difficulties and inevitable problems of every day. She assures us of her help and reminds us that what is essential is to seek and aspire for ‘things that are above, not for things on earth’ (Colossians 3:2). Immersed in daily occupations, we run the risk of believing that in this world, in which we are only passing by, is the objective of human existence. However, Paradise is the authentic goal of our earthly pilgrimage. How different our days would be if they were animated by this perspective! It is what happened to saints. Their human existence witnesses that when one lives with one’s heart constantly directed to heaven, earthly realities are lived in their just value, as they are illuminated by the eternal truth of divine love.’ Mary in her Assumption points us to the only authentic goal of our human life. She constantly desires to prepare us for heaven and help us on the journey. And isn’t that the central mission of the Legion: to remind each other and all people of the reality of eternal life and help them to get to heaven.

Secondly, the Assumption reminds us that victory comes through Mary. That in union with her we can ultimately gain victory over our human weakness and sinfulness. In the struggle to forgive, to let go of inner hurts and anger, to overcome habits of sin or imperfection, to conquer our habitual reluctance to love and serve Jesus in unattractive persons, in the constant battle to be generous and faithful in the apostolate, Mary in heaven is the luminous sign of hope: in her and through her we will win through in the end. There is no doubt whatsoever about that.

Thirdly, in the Assumption of Mary in her total personhood into heaven we celebrate the sublime fulfilment of her motherhood of each one of us. She no longer sees us in Christ Jesus simply through faith but now she sees us in Him in every detail of our existence in direct vision and she mirrors, like the perfect Mother she is, the unconditional and limitless love of the Trinity for us. She is now closer to us because of her clearer vision of us. As Legionaries we must ask for the grace to proclaim by our devotion and lives the great sign of Hope of mankind that is Mary in her Assumption.

Let me end with another quotation from Pope Benedict by way of summary: ‘How is it possible to make this luminous sign of hope be increasingly perceived by present day society? Today there are those who live as if they should never die, or as if all ends with death. Some behave as if man is the sole author of his destiny, as if God did not exist, at times denying that there is a place for him in our world’.

‘The great successes of technology and science, which have notably improved humanity’s condition of life, do not give solutions to the most profound questions of the human spirit. Only by openness to the mystery of God, who is love, can our heart’s thirst for truth and happiness be satisfied; only the perspective of eternity can give authentic value to historical events and above all to the mystery of human frailty, suffering and death. ‘On contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we also understand that the earth is not our definitive homeland and that, if we live constantly oriented to eternal goods, one day we will share in her same glory. For this reason, despite the many daily difficulties, we must not lose serenity or peace.’
We legionaries must let our neighbours and daily contacts know what Mary’s Assumption should mean to us and to them. It is the source and sign of tremendous hope.